Bad Judo

I’ve been trying to see if I had the video to explain – I do not. There’s a great video of me playing bad judo and getting my first win over a brown belt when I was like a white or orange belt.

When I started doing judo I really wasn’t prepared to throw with black belts, but I wanted to compete against them. Jujitsu and BJJ should translate to judo, right? What I ended up finding is pretty easy to describe as playing “bad judo”. I went up against black belts and brown belts by getting to compete in both advanced and novice. Novice I can throw with. Advanced I played “bad judo”.

The concept behind “bad judo” is very simple. In judo, you can’t just pull guard (caveats below), something has to happen for you to go to the ground. Generally this means throwing or being thrown. That’s “good” judo. “Bad judo” takes advantage of Section 16 of the IJF Rules: Entry into Newaza.

  • If I go for a throw and it fails, I can pull my opponent into groundwork.
  • If my opponent goes for a throw and I stuff it, I’m allowed to pull them into groundwork.
  • If I get a choke or arm-lock and I can take it to the ground without breaking the rules about throwing with a choke/joint-lock, I can continue to finish it on the ground. (There are certain explicitly banned techniques like ude-hishigi-waki-gatame)
  • If I do anything which is not a throw, but shows skillful application I can force my opponent to the ground
  • If I can make my opponent fall or if I lose my footing and fall without the skillful application of a throw 

There are of course exceptions. The referees in Wisconsin have decided to interpret the rules about throwing with a joint-lock to ban flying attacks (if the rules don’t explicitly address a technique, it’s the discretion of the referees). Simply doing a snapdown and attacking the turtle is a violation of at least two other rules so it’s not allowed. Pulling guard is allowed without point penalty if you’re considered taking advantage of a situation. A good example of this is someone goes for a forward throw like o goshi. If you stuff it (very obviously), you can just pull your opponent down into your guard by stepping around. Since they’ll be fighting for their balance you’re taking advantage of it. If you take someone off-balance and then just collapse on them so that you both go to the ground, if no one gets points, you get to play on the ground.

“Bad judo” is an art all to itself. Look into Kosen judo. How can you train someone for six months and put them up against someone with six years of judo? Spend all six months teaching them the ground. Once you realize [BJJ blue belt] > [judo black belt] on the ground, the idea hits and it becomes as simple as knowing how to get away with entry into newaza.

Tips for “Bad Judo”:

  • Learn to attack the turtle. Judo guys will instinctively go there. You’ll need to be making constant progress so taking longer than 3-5 seconds to turn them over completely or getting your hooks in means going back to standing.
  • Arm-locks are sometimes banned in novice, and always for kids. Chokes are your friend.
  • Shoulder locks and neck cranks are always banned, even while choking. Don’t make a ref have to decide if an arm-lock is an elbow or shoulder attack, stick to straight arm locks. Don’t pull down on the head to finish your triangle.
  • Not throwing (just waiting for the attempt to go to the ground) is a penalty. You have to at least fake some throw attempts every 10-15 seconds.
  • Obviously fake throws will result in penalties. Judges are looking for earnest attacks as opposed to good ideas. You can still go for a foot sweep which is hard to counter, but looks like you were trying and got stuffed. And hey, it’s now a failed throw, go to the ground.
  • Sacrifice throws are magic. If they work, you get an instant win, if they don’t but you did them earnestly, you get the guard.
  • One of the most infamous elbow locks in judo is to drag the opponent forward with the back of their collar and an underhook, then once they’re low enough stepping over their shoulder into an omo-plata like position (though you’ll finish it with a straight arm crush).
  • If you have a submission from the guard and they can lift you so that both shoulder leave the ground, you will be instantly stopped. UNDERHOOK THE LEG!
  • Keep making progress, even if it means taking steps backwards. If you’re on someone’s back, but fighting for the RNC is taking too long, IMMEDIATELY switch the the armbar. The fact that you’re continuously changing submissions means you’ll get more time to play. The judge has to feel like you’re doing something productive at all times.
  • You can win by pin. 15 seconds for waza-ari, 25 to ippon. Taking a legal judo pin is usually a better idea than the easy submission because you won’t be stood up if you’re pinning them. Even if you’re struggling to hold the pin, you get to go for submission attempts the entire time you can stay on top of them as opposed to the 5 seconds you get from the guard. Flower sweep > Arm-bar. Even if you know you can finish the arm-bar from guard, take the sweep and the pin, then you can submit from the top or just ride them out for the win.
  • If they end up being better than you expected, remember that you can get out of a pin just by establishing one hook. Half-guard is not pinned if your legs are crossed.

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